Let’s start with the injury report: No Chauncey Billups and maybe no Amar’e Stoudemire for the New York Knicks. No Shaquille O’Neal for Boston, but that has not mattered.
New York always had just a puncher’s chance in this series — they were less talented but if Stoudemire could take over one game, if Anthony took over another, if Billups drained some big late shots then….
Nope. The Knicks landed their haymakers in Game 1 (Stoudemire was brilliant, so the Knicks went away from him in the final two minutes) and Game 2 (‘Melo went off) and it didn’t matter. The Celtics withstood the blows, executed late and won. Billups has been out since tweaking his knee late in Game 1 and been a non factor.
Game 3? That was pretty much where the talent levels of these teams are at. Boston was up 9-0 to start the game and it never felt any closer than that in a blowout win.
No Stoudemire and Billups should mean New York gives the Celtics the Full D’Antoni and just tries to run the into the ground. Run on everything. Makes and misses. But that’s probably not what happens, the ball will stick when it hits ‘Melo’s hands, the Celtics will run a hard double team at him and we’ll see what Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas can do. And Jared Jeffries, don’t forget Jared Jeffries. Meanwhile Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo will continue to have good series.
Boston knows the Heat are next and the more time off (likely a week, rumor is next weekend is when that series will start) the better. Their old legs could use it. But the Celtics are fully capable of going through the motions and losing — remember last year’s playoffs they were up 3-0 twice and lost Game 4 both times — forcing a Game 5 on Tuesday. It really is a matter of how focused they are on defense.
Everyone, including Spike Lee, knows how this movie ends. Boston is the better team, the Knicks wanted to make the playoffs and generate some excitement this season and they did that. The only question now is how long it drags out. And that is a matter of focus from the Celtics and how many Knicks can be put out on the court Sunday.
Rumors have swirled about D'Angelo Russell signing with the Timberwolves in free agency this summer.
The huge question: How would capped-out Minnesota make that happen?
Darren Wolfson of SKOR North:
I am told there was some dialogue with Brooklyn to see if the Nets would have some interest in a sign-and-trade, Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell. I don’t sense those talks got even a smidge off the ground. I mean, the Nets are not taking on that contract.
Andrew Wiggins (four years, $122,242,800 remaining) might have the NBA’s worst contract. It’ll be hard to find any team that wants him. Brooklyn – which looks like favorites to land Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – certainly isn’t using its cap space on Wiggins.
Maybe the Timberwolves have other ideas for getting Russell. This one obviously would’ve favored Minnesota. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
But if this was the Timberwolves’ plan, we can put the Russell-Minnesota rumors to bed.
I’ve been looking all day for an excuse to post this video on a site called ProBasketballTalk.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert – who just won Defensive Player of the Year – provided it.
Everyone frets about young basketball players emulating Stephen Curry. But Patrick Beverley apparently also has influence.
The Knicks will reportedly roll over their cap space if they don’t sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard this summer.
Of course, New York must still field a team for 2019-20. After six straight losing seasons – including a franchise-worst 17-65 this season – the Knicks might even want to be somewhat competitive.
A candidate to fill the roster: DeMarcus Cousins.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
If the Knicks are intent keeping cap space clear for 2020 (when the free-agent class looks weak) if they strike out this year, Cousins could make sense. His shot-creation skills would raise their floor. He was a star not long ago.
But leg injuries have sidetracked Cousins’ career. He’ll turn 29 before the season. It’s not certain he’ll ever return to form.
For that reason, Cousins might prioritize multi-year offers with more total compensation, even if the annual average salary is lower. He can’t assume he’ll stay healthy and productive next season and that huge offers will follow in 2020.
Of course, Cousins might not get those multi-year offers this summer. That’s why a one-year deal in New York could work for him. It’d be another chance to improve his stock, much like his season with the Warriors was supposed to provide.
I doubt either the Knicks or Cousins want this. New York prefers better players. Cousins surely desires a larger long-term deal. But they might have to settle for each other.
Kevin Durant‘s company moved its office to New York. He could follow, to the Nets or Knicks, in free agency.
Maybe he’s already on the way?
Neal J. Leitereg of the Los Angeles Times:
Kevin Durant has wrapped up some business in Malibu, selling his oceanfront home on Broad Beach for $12.15 million.
Accounting for real estate commissions and other fees, the sale comes out as a bit of a wash for the 10-time all-star. He bought the place last year for $12.05 million, The Times previously reported in April.
Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:
sources familiar with Durant’s off-court business say Durant has since purchased a new home in New York and moved his belongings there.
Many NBA players spend their offseasons in Southern California. I’m not sure what to make of Durant selling his house there. This isn’t Durant selling his condo in San Francisco, where the Warriors will open a new arena next season.
Buying a place in New York would be more significant, but a player buying a house in a city where he could sign is a classic rumor. It often gets spread whether or not it’s true. I’m skeptical of the sourcing here.
But if Durant no longer plans to play in California, it could make more sense to sell his Malibu home. Of course, he could buy another house near Los Angeles. We just know he sold this specific place on Broad Beach. We can’t extrapolate with certainty.
And Durant could buy a house in New York for the offseason. He might want to be closer to his company in the summer. That doesn’t mean he’ll play for New York or Brooklyn.
So, I’d nudge the odds of Durant leaving Golden State for the Nets or Knicks slightly higher based on this information. But I wouldn’t overreact to it.